This blog, like most content on the web, is chronologically organized – newest items on the top. For content whose half-life is short, this ordering works well. A comment on the Italian debt crisis or the foibles of Rick Perry during the debates will interest most readers only for 24 hours or so. But the blog format fails content with longer half-life.
I’m defining content half-life as the period of time it takes half of all the readers of an article to read it. Depending on the post for this blog, that average is about 6 hours. After 6 hours, half the people who are going to read my post will have read it.
Content half life varies dramatically. A tweet’s half-life is 30 minutes and will decrease with time as there are more tweets and less time for each tweet to appear in a feed. At the other end of the spectrum, a Wikipedia article’s half-life is measured in years and may be growing.
An author’s challenge on the web is to match content to interested reader. Today, blogs fail their authors because chronology is a poor man’s relevance ranking. For example, several months ago I wrote a post on matching a fund size to a startup’s target outcome size. It’s more of a Wiki article than a tweet. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a blogging platform that will let me distinguish these posts. Or a platform that manages my content library intelligently.
I could create a page of reference articles, which will likely be my solution. Much better though, would be to match the content to the reader. To personalize the blog to an inbound search query or user’s reading history. Better still would be to correlate news and events to certain content. The S&P 500 fell 15% last month? Read my analysis correlating the performance of the S&P 500 to venture investing.
More than simply benefiting those of us who love our soapboxes, such a platform would help businesses tremendously. Many of our companies use social media and blogging for customer education, acquisition and retention. An intelligent content targeting platform no doubt would have tremendous impact on their growth.
Ranking content on the web chronologically is a very crude first pass filter. It’s time to make blogging platforms more intelligent.